Budding scientists visit leading UK science facilities

16 August 2013

A group of budding science students visited some of the UK’s leading science facilities this week as part of their prize for projects in a national competition.

Dr Christopher Frost from ISIS meeting the winner and runners-ups of the Institute of Physics Prize from the 2013 National Science & Engineering competition

The students all took part in the finals of the National Science & Engineering Competition at this year’s Big Bang Fair in London. They were judged to be the winner and runners-up for the Institute of Physics (IOP) prize, awarded for the best physics project.

The prize included a visit to some of the UK’s leading science facilities – ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and the Central Laser Facility – hosted by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire.

Andrew Taylor, Executive Director of the National Laboratories, STFC, said:

“It is a real pleasure for STFC to host this visit by these young scientists. It would be wonderful, if, a few years down the line, the experience of visiting the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories and of being successful in the competition has been the spur for the prize winners to pursue a research career in physics. We wish them the very best in their future endeavours and hope today will open their eyes to the type of research opportunities open to them.”

Edward Duckworth from the Thomas Hardye School in Dorset was the winner. Edward, who plans to study physics at university, won for his project titled ‘Tidal Waves: An investigation into the tidal effect on spectrogram background noise’.

Edward said, “I really enjoyed the visit. It gave me an idea of the opportunities that are available to scientists in the form of work placements and as careers. It made me feel more confident of my choice of a physics degree as I could see myself working at RAL or somewhere similar.”

The runners up were Scott Bennetton of Poole Grammar School, Rajaishree Armugam of Loughborough High School, and Andrew Spiers of Countesthorpe Community College, Leicester. Scott plans to go to university in 2014 to study physics, and Rajaishree will start a dentistry course this September.

Rajaishree said, “I particularly enjoyed learning about the Mid Infrared Instrument which may be used for geographical research into global sea temperatures. Having worked on a placement at the Geography Department at Loughborough University, I used to favour geophysics, but now I can understand how different aspects of physics are intertwined to produce world class research.”

The students spent a science-filled day at RAL meeting scientists and touring the ISIS accelerator, RAL Space facility and Central Laser Facility.
Dr Beth Taylor, Director of Communications at the IOP, said:

“Every year the Big Bang Fair produces a great crop of exciting projects from enterprising young scientists. It’s great to have the opportunity to recognise their efforts, and to give them a glimpse of what a career in science can offer. IOP is very grateful to STFC and all the staff at RAL for making this possible.”

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